August 03, 2010, 7:42 AM — All the Android fan blogs went crazy yesterday after a Nielson report reported that, for Q2 of this year, consumers purchased more Android phones than iPhones. Examples include Nielson: Android Outsells iPhone Handsets During Q2 (US) and Android Edges Past iPhone in New Smartphone Subscriptions for Q2.
Folks, it's time for a reality check. While this is certainly good news and an indicator that Android is gaining ground, winning one quarter means winning a battle, not the war. During this quarter Apple was preparing to launch a new iPhone, which had to kill their sales leading up to the June 24th launch. Granted they sold a bunch in that first week, but was it enough to offset the rest of the quarter when Apple fans knew a new phone was coming? Probably not.
That's speculation, but let's look more closely at the source material that these numbers came from. The good news is that Android is trending upwards nicely and in Q2 it claimed 27% of new smartphone subs, compared to 23% for the iPhone. The bad news is that overall, Android claims just 13% of the market (iPhone 28% and holding steady). The worst news is that among existing smartphone owners, iPhone users are more loyal than Android users. 71% of Android owners say they'd buy another Android phone, but 21% of them plan on switching to the iPhone. 89% of iPhone owners plan on getting another iPhone next, and only 6% plan on moving to Android.
Six percent is a pretty small number of conversions, particularly when 21% of "our people" are ready to jump ship and head to Apple.
Numbers are one thing but I'd really like to hear reasons. Why do 21% of Android owners want to jump over to an iPhone? Are these people who wanted an iPhone in the first place, but didn't want to go with AT&T (and hope the iPhone will be on other networks by the time they're ready to upgrade)? Or are they Android owners who've found the experience isn't as slick as what they see on their friends' iPhones? As someone who carries a Droid phone and an Apple iPad, I do have to say that the App Store experience is more satisfying than the Android Market. It's easier to find new apps to play around with (and for most consumers a smartphone is more a high tech toy than a tool), partially because of the layout of the respective services, but mostly because the Apple App Store is so often mentioned on the web. There're all sorts of App review sites and 'best apps' lists for the iPhone, but not nearly as many for Android. Sure, there are Android fan sites that list most popular titles (sometimes) but in the general press you always see Apple Apps, not Android Apps, listed.
We know the issues with Apple's walled garden and dodgy application approval process but frankly most people don't care; they just want to play Angry Birds on their phone. They see FaceTime and think this is something new; they have no idea that Fring beat FaceTime to market by months (and with 3G support, to boot).
Clearly 'the word' needs to be spread, but who is responsible for spreading it? Is this Google's job, or is it our (Android fans') job? I think we need to do our part. Crowing about beating Apple in one quarter isn't going to do it. That's just bragging and we'll be eating our words if things change in Q3. I'm calling on Android fans to start talking about the platform, and not just to other Android fans. Show off your phone to friends; show them the fun stuff on it. Don't lecture them about how Android is open. Show them how much fun, or how useful, Android is. Do you have a favorite website that lists "Most Popular Apps" once a week? Write to them and ask them where the Android app list is. And support your Android developers. If you try a demo of an app and enjoy it, buy the full product, for heaven's sake!
iPhone users create new iPhone users by showing off what a fun, useful device the iPhone is, not by explaining how safe Apple's closed system makes the device. Android users, in my experience at least, are more apt to lecture potential future Android users than they are to share the joy. You catch more flies with honey, after all.
So Android users, what are some of your favorite apps to show off? I'll start by mentioning The New York Times Android app, which blows away the Times Editor's Choice iOS app, offering pretty much the full contents of the paper, plus video clips. Your turn. Besides talking about it being open, why should your friend buy Android instead of an iPhone? And after you tell me, go out and tell them!